Make your kids happy! Popular obento fillings for children

The top 10 foods kids want in their lunchbox, or bento.


Japan In-Depth

1. Egg dishes

Jean-François Chénier/Flickr

Tamagoyaki is usually served as one of the dishes for Japanese style breakfast and it is a common item to include in a lunch bento box for school. Also, you might have seen this egg omelette served on top of sushi.

2. Wiener Sausages


I have nothing at all against a good sausage, but I can’t say I have them all the time either. Once a month is about the limit. But Japanese people seem to put wieners into everything. Kids in particular love them, as epitomized by the famous octopus-shaped wiener for which there are even special cutters.

3. Karaage

Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) is a popular dish for appetizer or as a main dish at home or restaurants. It’s also a popular bento menu and my son loves it when I put karaage in his tiny bento box.

4. Hamburgers

Japanese Hamburger Steak, or we call it Hambāgu (ハンバーグ) or Hambāgu Steak (ハンバーグステーキ), is a popular dish enjoyed both at home and Yoshoku (Japanese style western food) restaurants. It’s a steak made from ground meat and usually served with rice rather than buns. While researching facts about Hambāgu on Japanese Wiki, I learned that there is American version of hamburger steak and it’s very similar to a dish called Salisbury Steak, both of which I’ve never tried before.

5. Things wrapped in bacon

There are many bacon-wrapped dishes that go well in bento. Some examples are bacon-wrapped tofu, bacon-wrapped asapragus and bacon-wrapped wiener sausages or hamburgers.

6. Onigiri

tosa muu/Flickr

Onigiri is a common sight in bentos (boxed lunches). It is great for picnics or a simple snack. What does "onigiri" mean? It is the Japanese word for "rice ball" or "musubi", literally meaning "grip" - ie. holdable rice. There are varieties of onigiri, as you can put any filling you wish (or to just have it plain!).

7. Meatballs

Meatballs are an extremely versatile bento filling that can be made in various ways and even frozen to be used for multiple bentos.

8. Broccoli

Broccoli is a fun way to add color to a bento in a healthy way. You can add it raw, boiled or in a dish.

9. Spinach dishes


You may be used to eating spinach leaves in salads, or sautéed. In Japan spinach is rarely eaten raw. The most common way to eat spinach is to blanch it briefly. You may lose some nutrients when you do this, but it’s more than made up for I think by the fact that you can eat a whole lot more spinach than in a salad or so.

10. Mini tomatoes

Like broccoli, mini (or cherry) tomatoes add color and flavor to bento, and you can add them either raw or as their own dish mixed with other ingredients.

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

Things to Do

Hotels & Ryokan


Restaurant Search